Tag Management Systems, thoughts from Atlanta Analytics

In all fairness, let me start this off by saying that I am personally in the tag management business. I created Satellite, what I believe to be the most usable, approachable, and forward-thinking TMS available today. So there is that. If this post is colored, well, you know why :). And if you actually read this blog regularly, you can blame Satellite for the lack of posts, lately.

But the point of this post is that it comes from the same place where all AA posts come from: we all want what we do to be easier, more meaningful, more recognized, and done with less drama; all so our intellect can fuel results. I wanted to write a few thoughts about tag management, from the perspective of this blog. So, here we go:

Something to make clear, right away

While I think everyone in the world who has anything to do with a web site should see our tool, Satellite, I think everyone in the world who has anything to do with a web site MUST explore the category and its key players. If you are not actively working to integrate a TMS into your web site, you are living in the past. Get with the program.

No, I am not joking. Really. Get with the program.

Here are two of the other players (among many, please feel free to comment if you represent another provider) that people should be talking to as part of this process.

TagMan – TagMan touts itself as the first TMS and the inventor of the category. Thank you! TagMan has excellent technology and is highly valuable to companies managing dozens or even hundreds of third-party tracking tags. I have not seen their interface, but I hear that people find the tool very valuable. And the employees I have met have been incredibly sharp and nice people.

Ensighten – Ensighten is without a doubt an incredibly powerful tool with a rich feature set, including simple methods to track Flash and native apps. Ensighten has an army of outrageously intelligent (and I might add very nice) people working there, and they are pushing constant innovation in the space.

Our offering, Satellite, is geared toward not just empowering the current teams who do this work (mostly developers), but looking forward to where this work should be done, and offering an intuitive tool set that gets rid of the technical aspects of tag management to empower marketers and analysts to take back what is rightfully theirs. In fact, Satellite is purpose built so you never see a “tag” ever again (unless you want to).

Finally, I have to recognize Adobe and Coremetrics, each offering their flavor of a TMS to offer these great benefits to their clients. I also haven’t seen these interfaces, but I’ve heard great things about them. While I personally (and professionally, in fairness) think that going with a vendor-supplied TMS is counter to some of the greatest benefits of a TMS, I can’t deny that for loyal clients, they provide a great benefit.

On a personal note, I want to make it clear that I have a tremendous amount of respect for the founders, employees, and technologies of the major players in this space, and I always will. While there has been some uncalled for drama in the space, none of it has actually happened between the highly professional and capable leaders or employees of the players, themselves. I am lucky to work and compete with such great people, so my fondness for this community (and this subsection of it) continues to shine.

Tag Management is a “when” technology, not an “if” technology

Tag management, like CMS’s, development frameworks, and myriad other technologies that came before, is absolutely, without a doubt, going to be a pervasive web technology, and I’ll take it even a step further: web sites will be built with these systems in mind in the very near future. Not only do they present a feature set that is a nice to have and presents a real and immediate ROI; I believe that the best TMSs will prevail, and they will meaningfully alter the way sites are developed in terms of process, workflow, roles and responsibilities, and internal expectations.

In other words, this is big. Especially for analysts.

If you haven’t yet begun the process of investigating a TMS, start now. Create an RFP, or just reach out to the providers you trust or have heard good things about. This is not a matter of whether or not you will benefit. It’s just a matter of when.

I know this sounds pushy. But I would say it if I wasn’t in the space, and I wouldn’t have bothered getting into the space if I didn’t believe it.

Why Tag Management is important to our industry

OK, here’s the real shark jump:

A TMS is important to us because a TMS addresses the least important part of what we do.

If we again start to erect a shrine to yet another technology, we will be no further than we are now; we will just be there faster. The greatest thing about a TMS is that you can think less about your tools, not more. Our value is our output, not the inputs. The less time we waste on the inputs, the more time we can spend creating output: ideas that fuel success in your business or help your customers love you more.

Like when car windows went from self-winding to just a button: today you want a window to go down and BAM, there it goes. Yes, there was a little honeymoon when the technology was new and you’d gather friends and family in the parking lot or driveway, but today, we’re past it. We’ve moved on. Because we’re in the car to drive. Not play with windows.

I think it is absolutely the best approach that the internal selling of this technology focuses on getting businesses back to work. Removing boundaries. There are direct financial benefits of a TMS (one-touch window operation: faster, easier), but they absolutely pale in comparison to the value of you analysts, and what you can do when yet another boundary is removed (keeping your attention on the road, rather than cranking a window and getting paper cuts on your knuckles from the maps you keep in your door pocket). Like we think of crank car windows as stone aged now, the way we do things on the web today will appear cro-magnan when we look back 5 years from now.

The better the technology gets in our space, the more it will enable analysts to be great. Technology enables greatness in people, not the other way around. As an analyst, a TMS is there so you can pay less attention to the challenges and technology associated with your job. Not more. You are what’s valuable. Not the TMS, not the analytics tool. You.

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  1. Couldn’t agree more here regarding the removal of boundaries for analysts, but would most definitely add that an Enterprise Tag Management tool should create a centralized platform for Analysts, Marketers and IT alike to collaborate and create a far greater and evolved digital marketing infrastructure. Tag Management is yet to be truly defined, we see many flavors of the ‘container tag’ approach in the market which does not address the true promise of Tag Management. It’s all about creating simplicity around a very technical problem, and the problem we are solving for is the divide between the digital marketing tools and the people who want to implement, manage, optimize and evolve them. We at Tealium are excited at all of the attention that Tag Management is getting and welcome so many new providers!

    Posted December 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink
  2. Jay,

    Thanks for the comment. You’re right: it is yet to be defined, and thank God for that. We do have a lot of thinking and innovating to do.

    Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink
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